Classroom of the Elite, Volume 9 Chapter 6 Part 3
ED: Graze and Catalystic
PR: Catalystic and Josh-kun
The day of the provisional exam had arrived.
That morning, each class would be focusing in on the exam.
Though, nobody in the classroom was diligently studying, as everyone was immersed in conversation instead. None of this conversation had anything to do with preparations for the upcoming exam. Rather, the topic of discussion was something completely unrelated to that.
“It’s pretty noisy.”
“Of course it is. It’s because of those outrageous rumors that showed up this morning.”
“Outrageous rumors? Have there been new ones about Ichinose?”
“No. They’re new ones that have been causing internal chaos within Class C.”
“New rumors, huh…”
With just one look at the restless classroom, it was obvious that this was no trivial matter.
“Incidentally, this has something to do with you too, Ayanokōji-kun.”
With that, Horikita showed me the screen of her cell phone.
She had written down a total of four rumors on the phone’s memo pad.
・Ayanokōji Kiyotaka has a crush on Karuizawa Kei
・Hondō Ryōtarō is only interested in obese girls
・Shinohara Satsuki was a prostitute back in middle school
・Satō Maya hates Onodera Kayano
The content of the rumors all followed a similar pattern. The full names of four people, including me, were directly stated as victims of the attack.
“Where did this gossip come from?”
“Are you familiar with the forums that the school set up for each class?”
“The ones in the school’s app, right?”
When students need to look into their point balances or something of that sort, they’re expected to login to an application that the school created for them. Coupled with this application is a set of message boards that students have the liberty to make use of as they see fit. However, because there are several easy-to-use chat applications already available on our cell phones, these boards didn’t see very much use among the students.
“That’s a good catch. Who discovered them?”
“By the time I got to the classroom this morning, the rumors had already started to spread. It’s possible that somebody came across them accidentally while they were using the app. There are also notifications that go out when the forums are updated.”
These forums weren’t just for class discussions. They were also used for general conversation. Due to the fact that anyone could access them, there was a high probability that these rumors were seen by the other classes as well.
“Don’t you think that this is a little different from what happened with the previous rumors?”
“Regardless of whether it’s the same perpetrator or not, there are countless ways to spread rumors. Wouldn’t you agree that there’s no reason to get caught up in the differences? It’s not something that can be covered up now that it’s been posted online.”
With that, Horikita transitioned to another topic.
“I’ll just ask to be sure, but… is it true?”
“No it is not.”
I denied it immediately.
“There are only a few people who know about my relationship with Karuizawa as it is now anyway.”
“So you have an idea as to who posted it, then?”
I gave her a brief summary of what happened during my encounter with Hashimoto the day before.
“There’s a high probability that Hashimoto-kun is the one that spread the rumors about Ichinose-san, so it wouldn’t be surprising if he was also spreading these new rumors about you and Karuizawa-san.”
“But, what about the other victims? There aren’t many ways to verify the truth.”
A student willing to personally look into the truth of each of these rumors…
“Oi! Were you really a prostitute, Shinohara!?”
Unable to read the atmosphere of the room, Yamauchi shouted out such a thing with a smile on his face.
Shinohara stood up in a panic and adamantly denied it. Embarrassment and anger could be clearly seen on her face.
“Well then, how about you show me the evidence.”
“You’re asking for evidence…? How am I supposed to give you something like that!?”
Meanwhile, the audience, captivated by the rumors, began to spread them amongst the incoming students who were just entering the classroom.
Well, it was going to end up like that sooner or later.
“If you’re saying it’s a lie, then are you saying that everything that’s been put online was also a lie? That we’ve all just been running our mouths?”
While watching Shinohara and Yamauchi’s argument unfold, I confirmed my thoughts with Horikita.
“Hmm… I suppose we have no other choice than to check with each of the victims one by one like Yamauchi.”
Though, most people aren’t able to pry into someone’s trauma like that.
“Are you stupid!? You’re getting swept away by rumors and you don’t even know where they came from!”
Shinohara’s anger toward Yamauchi was by no means unreasonable.
It was surprising that she was able to stay calm like this.
“Though~ Don’t you think that all of the stuff posted online seems pretty realistic?”
“You… Knock it off, Haruki!”
In response to his friend’s merciless hounding, Ike reached out and forcefully grabbed Yamauchi by the shoulder to signal that it was time to stop.
“Wh-what’s wrong? This is my chance to get back at Shinohara for always acting so high and mighty.”
“Getting back at her…? No matter what, those rumors have to be lies!”
“How are we supposed to know that? A relatively ugly chick like her could’ve totally done something like that.”
Yamauchi continued to talk mindlessly, without a shred of concern for Ike’s feelings on the matter.
“Oh, I see… Ike, you have a crush on Shinohara, don’t you? So that’s why you can’t admit-”
Ike grabbed Yamauchi by the collar of his shirt.
“Cut it out you guys.”
Unable to sit still and watch from afar any longer, Sudō forcibly separated the two of them. At the same time, Hirata arrived at the classroom and immediately caught on to the atmosphere of the situation. He approached some of the girls and began to hear out the specifics about the rumors.
Since Shinohara was just denying everything, Yamauchi decided to temporarily change targets to someone else.
“Well then, Hondō~ Are you seriously only into fat chicks?”
Yamauchi turned his attack toward Hondō.
“N-no way! Absolutely not! Those rumors are downright lies! Right, Ayanokōji? You probably don’t even like Karuizawa, right!?”
Naturally, Hondō also denied everything. He then turned to me for help with escaping the spotlight.
Everyone’s attention turned to me immediately. Fortunately, Kei and most of her friends hadn’t gotten to the classroom yet.
I responded to him with a nod.
He shouted out as he turned his attention back to Yamauchi.
“Dammit. What the hell? Are they all just lies?”
With the three of us all denying our part of the rumors, the classroom began to calm down just a little.
“But… Satō-san doesn’t like Onodera-san very much, does she?”
Maezono muttered these few absent-minded words. They probably came out of her mouth without a second thought because Onodera hadn’t come to school yet.
“Wha-! Ho-hold on, Maezono-san!”
Satō frantically attempted to stop Maezono, but it was already too late.
“Come to think of it, has anyone here ever seen Satō hang out with Onodera before?”
Things seemed to be developing in a way where it wasn’t possible for the rumors to be dismissed as simple lies anymore.
In this situation, Sudō confirmed that Ike and Yamauchi would remain separated from each other before walking over to me and Horikita.
“Ayanokōji. You really don’t like Karuizawa?”
Even Sudō felt like he needed to ask such a question.
“No, I don’t.”
“Hmm. Well, it doesn’t matter to me if it’s true or not. Hey Suzune.”
“Ah, well, it’s just that I managed to overhear part of your conversation. If it’s alright with you, I’d like to help out.”
“Well, I have no shame. I should be able to ask around about the rumors straightforwardly like Haruki did.”
Sudō presented her with such an offer.
It was true that Sudō could be a useful tool for determining exactly where these rumors originated from.
Though at the same time, he said he had overheard our conversation, so he should’ve heard me tell Horikita that I wasn’t interested in Kei.
“You shouldn’t do anything that will lower other people’s evaluations of you. You already aren’t very well respected by your peers. You should be focusing your attention on improving how other people see you. Think about how Yamauchi-kun’s tactless remarks seem to have dramatically lowered his social status within the class.”
It felt as though Yamauchi had managed to instantly overthrow Sudō from his position as the most disliked person in the class.
Most significantly, even Ike, his closest friend, had vented his anger at Yamauchi’s behavior.
“That’s probably true… But I really do want to be helpful somehow.”
Sudō glanced at me for a moment before immediately turning away. I guess that he must have been vaguely aware that Horikita would consult with me about various things. Of course, he should also understand that it was easy for us to talk with one another simply because we sat next to each other.
“In which case, you should keep watch over Yamauchi-kun to make sure he doesn’t spiral out of control. It would be different if there was only one positive rumor going around, but this time, if these troublesome rumors really are true, everything becomes really personal. I’d like for you to look after Hondō-kun as well because these rumors have probably dampened his spirits by quite a bit. You can do that, right?”
“…Yeah, you’re right.”
Sudō seemed a little disappointed, but he still obediently followed Horikita’s instructions.
After confirming that Sudō had left, Horikita went back to the subject at hand.
“In all likelihood, this has all been a part of Sakayanagi-san’s plan as well. She wasn’t satisfied with going after Ichinose-san alone, so she set up the same type of trap for Class C. Then she attacked both classes at once. I think she’s trying to shake us up before our end-of-year exams… What should we do?”
“What do you mean, ‘What should we do’? Do you think there’s a way to confront these rumors? The more we try to deny, the more we’re going to blow up the issue. Even if we were to admit that they’re true, people will just continue to gossip behind our backs. The rumors about me aren’t a big deal, but if the rumors about the others start to be treated like facts, then that could cause a lot of damage.”
“…Yeah. That may be true.”
Horikita nodded approvingly as she looked over at Shinohara and Hondō. The way she did it made me wonder if she was imagining herself in their shoes.
“But, in some sense, this was a dirty move. How can we fight back against something like this?”
“Even though you see the fire starting to spread, you’re still just going to sit back and watch?”
“It’s not that big of a deal to me. On the other hand, Karuizawa is most likely going to be facing some problems.”
“In other words, you don’t care?”
“Yeah, I don’t care.”
For some reason or another, it seemed like Horikita wanted to see me panic.
Due to this, I was able to see Horikita show a rare expression of disappointment.
“At any rate, it’s fortunate that it wasn’t the other way around.”
The other way around. Meaning that Kei was the one with a crush. On me. It would give birth to even more rumors about how she’s chasing after another guy immediately after breaking up with Hirata. There would be all sorts of speculations going around.
Even if something isn’t true, there will always be people who treat it like fact. People that treat fiction like reality.
“But… I just can’t sit back and watch this happen like you.”
“Is that so?”
Even if we were to leave the rumors alone, judging from the current state of affairs, the problem was clearly only going to continue to spread.
Yamauchi attempted to approach Shinohara and Satō again, but Hirata intervened first.
“Yamauchi-kun. Just because something’s been posted on our class’s forums doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s true. At the very least, it’s wrong for fellow classmates to be hurting each other like this.”
“But just like with Ichinose’s rumors, doesn’t everyone know already? So it doesn’t make any difference whether or not we say anything, right?”
“I’m not sure I agree with you about that. At least not in the current situation. That’s why, right now, I think that the proper course of action is to avoid getting tricked by these rumors while we sort everything out.”
Hirata’s words were met with strong voices of approval from both the boys and the girls. Of course, it was no permanent solution, but it was enough to successfully handle it for now.
At that moment, a single message came in on Horikita’s cell phone.
Saying as much, Horikita took a glance at the message.
“It seems as though Ichinose-san is taking today off as well.”
The very day of the provisional exam. Even if she’s only somewhat sick, she should still want to participate in a test like this where her academic abilities will be measured. Not to mention that Ichinose is the leader of Class B, the one who chose to take on the burdens of all of her colleagues. Well, judging from how she looked the night before, there was no way she would’ve been able to recover completely.
“One more thing… It seems like there were rumors posted on Class B’s forums as well.”
“That is to say, Class B has become aware of the rumors in Class C.”
“So it seems.”
Horikita quickly logged into the app on her phone and checked Class B’s forums. It turned out that there were four rumors listed there as well, similar to the ones found for Class C. The same was also true for Class D’s forum.
“Conveniently, no rumors were posted for Class A. Do you have time after school today? I’d like to hear the details about Ichinose from Kanzaki, and I’d also like to discuss how to deal with these forums.”
I agreed with Horikita’s request.
“For now, let’s focus on the provisionary exam. After all, this is a valuable opportunity for us to confirm the difficulty level of the end-of-year exam and get a good grasp on where we’re at as a class.”
However, while that would be easy for Horikita, the people that had been targeted by these rumors wouldn’t be able to do that so simply.
When Kei and the rest of her friend group finally got to the classroom, they all gathered together and began to whisper amongst each other.
Each of them would periodically glance over in my direction with a look of disgust in their eyes.
Even though I wasn’t able to hear their discussion, it was perfectly clear what kind of things they were saying to each other. Something like…
‘Do you really think Ayanokōji-kun has a crush on Karuizawa-san?’
‘What do you think about him, Karuizawa-san?’
And there was no doubt in my mind that Kei was responding to them, describing me with words like ‘gross’ and ‘terrible’.
“Didn’t you say that you didn’t care?”
“…It’s still kinda hard.”
I would’ve continued to watch them talk, but I didn’t want to actually hear any of the insults they’d be tossing around, so I looked away.
The real problem was the other students targeted by the rumors other than me.
I’m ahead of schedule everyone! This part is over twice as long as the last one I put out, and I’m glad to be presenting it to you all now. I have had some good help with editing and such from more than one person willing to offer their time recently, and I’ve also set up a recent thing with another person. Please keep tuned in the next couple days for another post of an entirely different nature!
I put a lot of heart into this part! I really like how it shows Kiyotaka’s softer side, especially toward the end where he’s clearly feeling embarrassed about the rumors about him and Kei.
Anyways, Part 4 is going to come real, real soon alright! It’s only 1.7 characters so it shouldn’t take nearly as long as this did, but honestly, I have no idea what I’m doing anymore so we’ll see what really ends up happening.
Let me know if you see issues and thanks for reading and all of your support.